A 75-year-old Boca Raton widow won $3.8 million late Friday from a Palm Beach County jury that agreed two tobacco giants were responsible for the death of her husband.
The jury deliberated about six hours before announcing that it had found Lorillard Tobacco Co. and R.J. Reynolds mostly responsible for the death of Frank Gafney, a lawyer who died of lung cancer in 1995 at age 59. His widow, Kathleen Gafney Hanners, filed suit on his behalf.
During closing arguments, tobacco attorneys agreed smoking caused Gafney’s lung cancer. However, they argued that Gafney smoked because he enjoyed it despite the risks. His ability to quit for a year in the mid-1970s to get a better deal on his life insurance policy proved he wasn’t addicted, could quit anytime he wanted but simply enjoyed smoking. Therefore, they argued, they weren’t responsible.’